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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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June 10, 2010

Training Naked

By Mark Sisson
129 Comments

OK, now that I have your attention, I’d like to discuss the idea of you doing your weight-training (Law #4 Lift Heavy Things) with as few “joint support gizmos” (wrist wraps, tape, lifting belts, etc.) as possible. Maybe you already do, but if not…

By now you know how I feel about shoes in general – and workout shoes in particular. Along with grains and statins, they make my list of the top ten mistakes in the history of human health. High-tech, “comfortable” and higher-heeled shoes are probably the cause of more bad backs, bad knees, pulled muscles, hamstring issues, torn cartilage, tendonitis and myriad other lower- and mid-body afflictions than any other single factor. The reason is this: the more we’ve unburdened the important (critical) small muscles of our feet with “forefoot motion control”, “heel stabilizers”, and “rear-foot shock absorbers” – in other words, the more we’ve put our feet in these supportive and restrictive casts – the more we’ve disrupted the intricate biomechanical balance that otherwise naturally arises from using our feet unshod as designed by evolution. And, as a result, the more we can find ourselves on the slippery slope to injury and misery.

As we’ve discussed many times before on MDA, it’s the small muscles of the feet – and both the strength and the sensory feedback they provide – that begin to orchestrate the symphony of balanced movement that leads to functional lower-body strength and power. It’s also those small muscles that ought to be telling us when it’s time to quit doing what we’re doing. Instead, we often bypass that haptic feedback and burden the larger muscles and joints further down (or up) the line, setting ourselves up for much bigger – and potentially longer lasting – problems. While this concept applies to every aspect of foot use from standing to walking to lifting heavy things, nowhere is it more evident than with runners – my former self included. Balance and symmetry are tossed aside, along with discretion, in the pursuit of more garbage miles. My own injury issues (osteoarthritis, tendonitis, hip flexor problems) escalated linearly over the years as I went from being able to handle “only” running 35 miles a week in my Chuck Taylors and Onitsuka Tigers in the late 60’s-early 70’s to eventually running over 100 miles a week in my high-tech cushioned Nike LDVs. I drank the Nike Kool-Aid and I’m still dealing with the physical fallout 30 years later.

I was reminded yet again of the propriety of going barefoot or wearing minimalist shoes two weeks ago when I spent three days in Manhattan representing The Primal Blueprint and The Primal Blueprint Cookbook at Book Expo America (a huge publishing trade show). In an effort to look corporate and respectable, I found myself wearing my expensive “Sunday-go-to-meetin” shoes all day for the show (standing, mostly) and then walking 20 blocks back to my hotel. After having spent the past few years barefoot in my house, training, hiking and playing in my Vibram Fivefingers or my Feelmax Pankas, and just wearing minimalist “mock mocs” to the occasional business meeting, my feet have gotten much stronger and are used to having little or no support. Yet after binding them in my “ergonomically formed” dress shoes for three solid days, I was literally limping home to my hotel room each night, barely able to take a step without feeling like I was out of alignment everywhere. The message was loud and clear yet again.

But here’s where I’m going with this. Knowing (Grokking) what we know about feet and shoes, doesn’t it make sense that what applies to the small muscles of the feet, might also apply to small muscles in the rest of the body. I see people at the gym all the time with wrist wraps, tight Velcro lifting gloves, taped wrists and ankles, knee braces, weight-lifting belts and all other manner of “support gear.” I guess the idea is to be able to “safely” push or pull more weight without stressing or injuring the delicate tendons, small muscles, cartilage, etc. in the joints. I get what they’re trying to do, but it’s antithetical to true strength and power. In fact, use of this sort of support gear bypasses those same important small muscles and tendons in fingers and forearms we should be working as enthusiastically as we work those larger beach muscles. Furthermore, it’s the small muscles that ought to be telling us when it’s time to stop, or that we’ve hit our “max” (or even that we should take a few days off). Bypassing that critical feedback only places a greater burden on larger muscles and joints – or calls into play unusual or unsafe “workarounds” as the body intuitively tries (without our even knowing it) to recruit fibers from other areas to perform the intended work. The result is often a biomechanical imbalance that simply transfers the load to an inappropriate muscle or area, often leading to injury. In my own case, I re-learned this after I foolishly chose to go for a PR on the bench press some years ago. Because I have small “runners’ wrists” I would wrap my wrists tightly with the leather Velcro band that extended from my lifting gloves each time I trained heavy on the bench. This “small muscle/wrist bypass” enabled me to eventually achieve a one rep max of 275 at the age of 53 (I weighed 164). Not bad for an old skinny marathoner, but in the process I developed a rotator cuff injury and almost tore a pec muscle because I was doing more than my overall fitness was capable of handling in a balanced fashion. I should have used my wrist weakness – my weakest link at the time – as the ultimate indicator of what was prudent.

I see this same sort of thing happening a lot in the gym. Guys are squatting 300 pounds with a weight belt protecting their back and/or abs, when maybe they should instead be using 175 and doing a few more reps without “protection.” They should be developing acute proprioceptive and kinesthetic awareness around the lower back and abs, rather than blocking those sensations out. Similarly, if you have to tape your wrists because your grip is keeping you from completing that last pull-up, maybe you should be working as equally on your grip or forearm strength as you are on your lats. If you have to tape your wrists to do a handstand push-up, maybe you should back up a few skill levels and go through the progression that includes inclined push-ups first. Small muscles should dictate the max weights you do, and you shouldn’t move on to bigger weights until all parts of you are ready.

This is why I feel so strongly that bodyweight exercises are the ideal way to train small muscles as well as those beach muscles. Unwrapped and naked. Grip strength, balance, bilateral symmetry, haptic feedback, kinesthetic awareness and core function are all integral parts of Primal Fitness life skills. To circumvent them in the interest of building bigger biceps won’t serve you in the long run.

Stay tuned for The Primal Blueprint Fitness program, slated to drop early next month (for free to newsletter subscribers). It’s based around functional fitness and a few simple, balanced, full-body movements. Thanks for reading, everyone!

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129 Comments on "Training Naked"

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Primal Toad
6 years 3 months ago

Hahahahahaha… Mark you are waaay too awesome!

I remember coming across the comment with someone asking for more on this law. I wanted the same so thanks a lot!

Of course there is alway simplicity… I enjoy pull-ups, push-ups, and squats as my workout for this law! It’s all ya need 😉

Susan Campbell
6 years 3 months ago

Thanks for a great post, Mark. I agree with you 100% and have always instructed my clients to workout with as minimal gadget support as possible. I hate seeing guys at the gym use wrist straps to do pull ups. If they need the straps then maybe they are not ready for the load they are trying to move. As for me, I have been wearing my fivefingers for a few months now and have seen a gradual reversal of a leg injury I sustained from running way too much a few years ago. Those things are brilliant!

sweeps843
sweeps843
6 years 3 months ago
After playing competitive indoor volleyball for about 14 years, I couldn’t agree with you more. A lot of players injure their ankles early on…start wearing active ankle guards, and then knee injuries result. After you tape up your knees, your hips start to hurt…this was my experience at least. I played with chronic tendonitis for several years until I graduated college…sooo painful. I decided to start running barefoot (in Vibrams) last year (a couple years out of school), and my knee pain is virtually gone. Beach seems to be the way to go…you always play barefoot, and no hard surfaces… Read more »
Lars1000
6 years 3 months ago

Good call. My next pair of weightlifting gloves will be minus wrist straps.

Scott
Scott
6 years 3 months ago

Maybe you should just get rid of the gloves too. They can impede growth in your grip strength. I use nothing extra when lifting and am currently at 180 par shrugs and deadlifting 315.

Barefoot
Barefoot
6 years 3 months ago

I agree 100% with the minimalistic weight lifting advice. It is basically what every real powerlifting / olympic weightlifting coach teaches. Rippetoe has a whole section in Starting Strength all about it.

My favorite lift is deadlift and I get asked everytime I do it, “hey man, don’t you hurt your back since you don’t use a belt?” My response is always, “deadlift is a back exercise, how do I strengthen it when I have a belt on?”

Matthew
Matthew
6 years 3 months ago

You do realize Rippetoe is pro-belt, right?

SuperMike
SuperMike
6 years 3 months ago

It seems like I’ve taken your advice even before you gave it to me.

I haven’t used a weight belt in years for the same reasons you give here.
I just lift less, properly.

I’m lucky that I’m able to workout barefoot because I train in my garage.

I’ve never used straps for chin ups (too complicated) and I don’t use gloves.

I do have incredible calluses on my hands, though.

Christos
Christos
6 years 3 months ago

My garage gym has been the greatest training facility i’ve ever used.
Something very Primal about working out with no shirt and no shoes.

Keep those Calluses strong!

Candice
6 years 3 months ago
Mark, I completley agree. I lift weight with very little support. It makes me more aware of my other muscles. I do use weight lifting gloves minus straps to keep the calluses at a minimum, mostly b/c I am a girl and we don’t like that sort of thing 🙂 I train at home barefoot, but when I train at the gym I train in the Nike Free 3.0’s. They are not totally like barefoot since they have arch support, but they are as close as I can get w/o breaking the gym rules. How do you feel about the… Read more »
MightyMite
MightyMite
6 years 3 months ago

No input on the shoes questions, but I have to say that I’m female and I haven’t used gloves since I started lifting again in January 2009. I keep the calluses under control with a Ped Egg. Dustless climbers chalk is smuggled in with me in my gym bag (lucky you to be able to train at home). Then again, I used to be a gymnast, so calluses have always been little badges of honor to me. For the gnarliest hands, check out competitive rowers (no glove option there and the females are all Amazons).

Joe
Joe
4 years 5 months ago

I was a rower for 8 years and still have the calluses to show for it!

Justa
Justa
6 years 3 months ago

I love working out in the VFFs. My Nike Free are okay, but are second choice in my opinion.

AlphaCityLC
AlphaCityLC
6 years 3 months ago

Barefoot,

Rippetoe is a huge advocate of belt and lifting shoes, not really sure where you got the impression otherwise…

That said, I agree with Rippetoe that belt and shoes are ok for lifting — it is a sport and some sport requires equipment

Justa
Justa
6 years 3 months ago

Lifting shoes for sure. Unless you’re trying to build up to a monster weight, I’d skip the belt too.

Gordon
Gordon
6 years 3 months ago

Please let me know when Vibrams Five Fingers comes out in a 14EE.

John
John
6 years 3 months ago

I wear size 15s and the KSO 48 fits me. 48 on the KSO is larger than on the other models for some reason – check their sizing chart online.

BobS
BobS
6 years 3 months ago

Same – I wear 15s and have VFF KSO 47s that fit perfectly.

Though, I’m not sure what width I need.

Randolph Carter
Randolph Carter
6 years 3 months ago

They basically do – I wear 14EE and my sprints are 46s, they fit great.

Jeff
Jeff
6 years 3 months ago

Mark,

Could it be that your body just wasn’t conditioned to walk “in those shoes on that terrain”? There’s a whole city full of people that walk there every day.

Best,

Jeff

pieter d
pieter d
6 years 3 months ago

lol!

Jim
6 years 3 months ago
Great post! As someone who has to wrap his feet up in those torture devices called dress shoes for work every day, I feel for you. And people wonder why I take my shoes off as soon as I get to my car! Any chance you could recommend some minimalist shoes that are okay to wear at the office and won’t cost an arm and a leg? I’ve been thinking of just cutting the heel off a pair of the shoes to see how that works out, but the rubber is still pretty stiff with the rest of it, so… Read more »
Ben
Ben
6 years 3 months ago
Keefe
Keefe
6 years 3 months ago

Check out this link at bithdayshoes.com for dress like shoe called the Terra Plana

http://birthdayshoes.com/terra-plana-vivo-barefoot-oaks

Beyond the link I don’t know much about them so maybe someone else could chime in.

gp
gp
6 years 3 months ago

You might consider Terra Plana shoes, but they are a bit pricey. I picked up a pair of black Aquas (on a discount) and wear them at the office every day. At home, it’s VFFs or barefoot for me.

Justa
Justa
6 years 3 months ago

I’ve been trying to find some of these myself. I’ve looked at the Terra Plana, but frankly, they are ugly as snot. Someone could get rich here if they recognized there is an opportunity in the market for this type of dress shoe.

prib81
6 years 3 months ago

I wear my black Vibram KSOs to work in a business casual environment. To be even more stealth, I’ve heard of “blacking out” the KSOs with black sharpie or carefully removing the embroidered toe logo and popping off the glued-on logos on the side. KSO Trek and Moc are made of kangaroo leather and are a little dressier-looking too.

Mountain Dew
Mountain Dew
6 years 3 months ago

You were in NYC and you didn’t tell a brotha?!?

I see how it is…

Steve
6 years 3 months ago
As a runner, I can’t imagine running barefoot very far or very long. I have seen an occasional barefoot runner in marathons. While I am running slower, and no more marathons, i still like to run, especially with my running group for the comraderie it provides. I do like the idea of barefoot running and the benefits it provides. Last year I switched to Newton shoes. They claim that there shoe actually mimics barefoot running as it forces you to strike on your forefoot as opposed to your heal. Newton Running encourages running on your midfoot/forefoot. While they took getting… Read more »
Aaron Curl
6 years 3 months ago
I still say you and many others are missing the point. Bottom line: a shoe is a shoe is a shoe. A shoe is a crutch. Even Vibrams are guilty of this. I can run a lot further in vibrams than I can completely barefoot because the shoe blocks the signals the ground needs to send to my brain. I bet if you took a survey 90% of vibram first time users had sever calf pain after there first run because they force you to run properly but they still eliminate the proper feedback needed with the ground. Honestly for… Read more »
jasho
jasho
6 years 3 months ago

how did you like the newton running shoes? i find them to be much more bulkier than the vff’s so hard to compare.. ot that or being barefoot..

has it helped your form at all?

Kishore
Kishore
6 years 3 months ago

Converse Chuck Taylors and some chalk are all you need!

Lars1000
6 years 3 months ago

Chuck Taylors were good enough for Rocky!

Peter
Peter
6 years 3 months ago

Mark,

this article is really exemplary, there is reasoning behind every sentence and the message is clear throughout.

I think it should be read by everyone interested in any type of training. Bodyweight exercises are the best approach exactly because of the role of these ‘small muscles’. Too bad that many people are obsessed with the fake and unhealthy bodybuilder look. Those who are wise can still reconsider.

pieter d
pieter d
6 years 3 months ago

Great article! Both on the shoes and the straps and bands.

You are only as strong as your weakest link. Why would you bypass your weak link with a lumbar band? If your back can’t bear the load, there’s no way it will be able to do it in real life situations or in athletic context.

The only thing I could agree upon are straps for better grip doing deadlifts, e.g. for a soccer player. He doesn’t really need the strong grip.

Thanks

brian p
brian p
6 years 3 months ago

What is he losing by developing his grip strength? I don’t see the connection.

I don’t set extra time aside to develop my grip, I just exercise “naked” and the grip comes along with it.

When deadlifting heavy I use an alternating grip, no straps.

“for a soccer player. He doesn’t really need the strong grip.”

what about for throw in’s or, better yet, jersey grabbing ; )

pieter d
pieter d
6 years 3 months ago

damn, I forgot about the jersey grabbing…

He’s not losing anything by developping grip strength, but from an training efficiency point of view, he could benefit from the straps.

Cam
Cam
6 years 3 months ago

Mark,
See p. 78-80 of Pavel’s Power to the People (link below). It includes info on shoes but also on gloves and the result of blunted manual proprioceptive feedback.

http://books.google.com/books?id=6vJA2RXhg8YC&printsec=frontcover&dq=power+to+the+people+pavel&hl=en&ei=0CgRTODmDYP78Aa_rej0BQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=gloves&f=false

Keep up the good work,
Cam

Andrew
Andrew
6 years 3 months ago
A logical construction on your whole philosophy of ergonomic exercise. Joint and small muscle strength are absolutely important to overall whole-body fitness. But, I wonder if this will extend beyond moving weight (body-weight or additional weight). Grok was a hunter-gatherer, and I imagine he encountered other wanderers chasing the same prey. Would Grok rely simply on his un-aided joint strength, if he has figured that wrapping his wrists would help lessen damage when he threw a punch? I haven’t read anything on this site about boxing, or heavy-bag excercises. I assume it’s because Mark doesn’t excercise in that way. But… Read more »
Mountain
6 years 3 months ago

I think it would be helpful to train self-defense “naked” too, at least once in awhile to learn how to hit with proper structural alignment. Wouldn’t want to break your hand after a poorly thrown, bare-fisted cross in a real fight, right?

Matt
Matt
6 years 3 months ago

As a I agree with 100% of your article I have to admit that despite the back problems high heels cause for the ladies that look pretty darn awesome in them.

Nic Kirkland
Nic Kirkland
6 years 3 months ago
Ok, I normally love your posts Mark, but I have to side with Rippetoe on this one, at least as far as a weightlifting belt is concerned. When used properly (only once you can squat a good amount of weight without one, say 250 lbs for 5 reps for your average male athlete), a weight lifting belt does not protect or support your muscles or joints. It provides proprioceptive feedback for your abs to contract harder against, thus increasing your stability and trunk support under load. It should only be worn for your heavy work. But, if a good belt… Read more »
Pocahontas
6 years 3 months ago
Haha – So about 30 minutes before I saw this most recent post, I told a friend of mine about my new paleo lifestyle and to check out MarksDailyApple.com on her lunch hour. I can only imagine the look on her face when she’ll read “Training Naked” as the title of the first post! Hopefully she’ll continue to read on. Otherwise I have some serious explaining to do! Haha!At the very least it will be a great ice breaker into the website though. Nonetheless, thanks for all of the wonderful information and motivation that MDA provides on a consistent basis!… Read more »
pieter d
pieter d
6 years 3 months ago

If lifting heavier weights is your goal, belts are useful, but then you should always use them. If overall athletic performance or health is your goal, I don’t see the need to use them.

Let your weakest link (as you say, it can be proprioceptive) guide you for dosage… Your nervous system gets additional proprioceptive input, but if you play e.g. basketball without the belt, you nervous system will feel, well naked…

imnotbncre8ive
imnotbncre8ive
6 years 3 months ago

The point is that a lifting belt allows you to get stronger faster than you could without it. The strength you build will be used in whatever particular athletic endeavor you choose, even if you don’t bring the barbell + belt along with you. Saying that your nervous system will feel naked without a belt is silly, at best. Do your legs also feel like jelly just because you didn’t bring a barbell to squat with onto the basketball courts?

michaelchasetx
michaelchasetx
6 years 3 months ago

Nick is right on this one … if I’m using a bar for squats, I’m using a belt to lock down my midsection for safety.
Rip Rocks!

Zac
Zac
6 years 3 months ago
I’m gonna play devil’s advocate for a moment: A weight belt isn’t solely for the purpose of protecting the back and abs. They are highly effective in correcting posture under strenuous loads and help the wearer perform the valsalva:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valsalva_maneuver True, spending time working on good form helps in naked lifting, but when the bar is trying to crush you around 300lbs +, the goal is to get it up without injury. I do crossfit, and I try to wear my vibrams as much as possible. I occasionally powerlift and olympic lift in them, but there is a point at which… Read more »
John Stevens
John Stevens
6 years 3 months ago

I would disagree with the belt issue. http://www.70sbig.com/?p=884

imnotbncre8ive
imnotbncre8ive
6 years 3 months ago

I was actually just about to post this very same link, Jon Stevens! Beat me to it. Info by Justin Lascek and Gary Gibson are what led me to purchase a lifting belt in the first place.

imnotbncre8ive
imnotbncre8ive
6 years 3 months ago

I apologize for the double post. I would just like to add these two additional links regarding lifting belts for anyone who is interested:

http://www.70sbig.com/?p=891
http://www.70sbig.com/?p=1594

Jean-Patrick
6 years 3 months ago

Well said!

bodyweight training is much more natural to your body in my opinion and yield better results in my experience.

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nathan
6 years 3 months ago

As a competitive powerlifter I have to use gear like wraps, belts and even supportive suits to be competitive (they help me lift more and everyone else uses them). That being said I much prefer to “train naked” because it feels better and helps bring up those weak spots.

One the best decisions I made was to do all my kettlebell and body weight work bare foot.

Pocahontas
6 years 3 months ago
oops…I accidentally posted my original comment as a reply to someone else’s comment. My mistake. Here it is again: Haha – So about 30 minutes before I saw this most recent post, I told a friend of mine about my new paleo lifestyle and to check out MarksDailyApple.com on her lunch hour. I can only imagine the look on her face when she’ll read “Training Naked” as the title of the first post! Hopefully she’ll continue to read on. Otherwise I have some serious explaining to do! Haha!At the very least it will be a great ice breaker into the… Read more »
Terry
Terry
6 years 3 months ago

I agree with the weight belt, but not for every lift it should only be used when performing very heavy lifts (scaled to ability) or when going for a PR. basicaly if you can do more than 5 reps with the weight you dont need the belt.

AntonG
AntonG
6 years 3 months ago

Mark,

what is your stance on high top chuck taylors? I wanted to buy Vibrams but they were sold out everywhere at the time so i just got high top chucks. There is plenty of vibrams around now but I dont have the money. I love lifting in chucks, squatting in them really lets me sit far back and drive off the heels.

Riley
6 years 3 months ago

If you are using them for the big lifts (squats, deads, presses) then Chucks are great.
A lot of powerlifters recommend them in training, especially if you use a wide squat stance as they allow you to “push out” on your feet without risking rolling your ankle.

Shauna
Shauna
6 years 3 months ago
I can’t find it now, but at one point I read someone’s blog post, a review of Vibrams I thought, where he had posted a photo of the bare feet of a tribal dude who had spent most of his life barefoot next to a photo of a modern dude whose feet had been in shoes. The modern man’s feet were the SHAPE of the shoes, with toes all squished together, etc. whereas the tribal guy’s feet had toes all widely spread apart and looked healthier and more stable. I noticed that my feet look more like the modern man’s… Read more »
Jeffery
6 years 3 months ago

Check out http://www.softstarshoes.com for minimalist kids footwear, it’s what we bought for our 7 & 5 year old.

hmrf
hmrf
6 years 3 months ago

I got my (three year old) son a pair of Feelmax Niesas, and a pair of TerraPlana Rookys. Both are good shoes, although the Feelmax shoes are the “more minimal” of them.
Try to get one of those, I guess it’s easier to get the TerraPlana in the US, because the Feelmax come from Finland.

Cassandra
Cassandra
6 years 3 months ago

You might want to look at Soft Star Moccasins — they make several different ‘barefoot’ type shoes for children, and you can customize them for fit and design preferences.

Shauna
Shauna
6 years 3 months ago

Thx for the Soft Star recommendations. I think, since we’re on a tight budget, I’ll try my hand at sewing some at home. Hope it works!

brian p
brian p
6 years 3 months ago

“Train Naked” keyword here is “train”.

your everyday workout goal should be development.

Save the weight belt for competition days.

If you don’t compete, just lose the belt or save it for the occational max day.

I used to do weighted pullups and deadlifts with straps. I thought I was super “strong”, but felt like an idiot when I started Crossfit and my grip was the first thing to give out during my WOD’s.

trackback

[…] Mark’s Daily Apple has a great post today on the benefits of barefoot living.  He also discusses why gym-related “gizmos” (wrist wraps and weight belts, among others)  in general should not be a part of your routine. […]

norcalgal
norcalgal
6 years 3 months ago

i came in here expecting naked people. i am not as disappointed as i thought i’d be….

Stef
Stef
6 years 3 months ago
My vibes split a seam recently, so at the gym I donned some socks for the treadmill (trained in flip flops but that place is dirty). Manager came up to me and asked me if I forgot my shoes. Said there are other things you can do etc. I asked if she was kicking me off and she didn’t say so exactly. I said i prefer to run this way. She said “even Nike free’s have ankle support”. I laughed and said if it made her feel better I’d sign a waiver but this is the way I run. If… Read more »
Mountain
6 years 3 months ago

That’s a good one! I will keep it in my cache of witty barefooting remarks =]

Richard Nikoley
6 years 3 months ago

Hey Mark, for those times when you need to dress it up, you might check into Terra Plana’s line.

The particular one I have isn’t carried anymore, but it’s a very classy, dressy looking moccasin with a leather sole with rubber pads sewn in. Totally flexible.

But they have a lot of other choices.

http://www.terraplana.com/mens-c-153.html?viewall=true

Zach
Zach
6 years 3 months ago
All of those things (with the exception of lifting gloves) have their place in a properly designed workout program. If I plan on squatting 500 in competition, I only need the core strength to do it once. But in training, I may rep out with 450 for numerous reps for multiple sets. Why do I need the core strength to do a large volume of squats without a belt, when in competition I only need to do one rep? Granted, too many people use belts and straps as a crutch rather than an aid, but they do have their place… Read more »
Ken
Ken
6 years 3 months ago

There’s the problem though, squatting 500 pounds is about as primal as chronic cardio. You need nike’s to train 100 miles a week for a competitive marathon, and you need a belt to squat 500.

Mainer
Mainer
6 years 3 months ago

I ditched the weight belt, gloves, and straps years ago much for the same reasons discussed here. It has helped to develop my abs,core, and grip strength more naturally, haven’t had any problems and haven’t looked back either…….

Jason
Jason
6 years 3 months ago

I really like rock climbing and i think its quite natural. Its all body weight movements and gives you a strong total body. You must use your legs a lot when doing more complex routes and involves countless ways in which you move and pull/push, etc.

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Darrin
6 years 3 months ago

With a headline like that I thought this was gonna be a post about one of the great benefits of working out at home! 🙂

I think guys in particular are more interested in bragging about how much weight they put up than how they actually do it.

Take a look on YouTube at the world record bench pressers and squatters and see all the gear they have on.

It’s definitely a breath of fresh air to hear someone else advocating the minimalist approach.

Eva
Eva
6 years 3 months ago
I think for martial arts, it’s obvious you may need pads. Getting kicked or punched repeatedly without the benefit of a pad might not be good for you! Same goes for sports. If you are lifting for health, I agree with Mark. If you are lifting as a sport and ‘IF’ some legal piece of equipment gives you a true advantage, you will probably want to use it at least some of the time. And speaking of Vibrams and barefoot, I personally would not suggest barefoot travel on regular streets. I have done this in the past and a number… Read more »
Katherine
6 years 3 months ago

speaking of running naked… some races do encourage running nude! think nudist spas having 5K races

does primal ever offer race entry discounts for races or sponsor runners? I love running

Jeremy
Jeremy
6 years 3 months ago

This is the closest I’ve done – one of the benfits of doing the tri!

http://www.nyctri.com/Jamaica_Underwear_Run.htm

shel
6 years 3 months ago

i walk, ridgewalk, hike, barefoot run, backpack and mountain climb more kms than is probably sane.

i’ve got a pair of vffs for my monkeying around and two pairs of vivo barefoot shoes for when i have to look presentable. i won’t go back to conventional footwear if i have a choice.

Iman
Iman
6 years 3 months ago
yoga home study course
6 years 3 months ago

Thanks for this great post and to the commenters as well! Bodyweight exercises are the best! 🙂

DThalman
DThalman
6 years 3 months ago
i guess vibrams with a suit would have looked freakish but you’d have been walking the walk while you talked the talk 🙂 yeah on the gym accoutrements, it happens in the pool, too. flippers. buoys. hand paddles. snorkels (!) heck why not just add a strap on (sorry)jet motor?! i say, suit, cap and goggles…tabata sprints in the pool have been incredibly effective–one of the best things i’ve picked up from this site (one of many). 2,000 yard workouts twice a week with 500 yards of tabata sprints are gaining me better times than my former 4,000 “garbage yardage”… Read more »
DThalman
DThalman
6 years 3 months ago

ps the ultimate body weight exercise, hauling oneself up a cliff on a steep technical route

M.S.
M.S.
6 years 3 months ago
WHAT a post! I just went to my doc today for a rather mild hernia…no surgery required, but take it easy… this tells me i need to slow down on my crossfit progression… the mild hernia was likely a result of moving to kipping pullups too soon. Mark, I really appreciate your balanced approach to things. It just feels right. And you fellow Grocks out there- YEA!!! It is so cool reading about what y’all are doing- in a world where every time I respond to “what did you do to loose all that weight (response: no grains or sugar)”,… Read more »
Jonathan
Jonathan
6 years 3 months ago
Mark, I enjoy reading your posts and with this one you are right about a lot of things, but not when it comes to weightlifting. For deadlifts, benches and other lifts I always wear Chuck Taylors or other flat shoes. But for every movement that has squats in them I wear lifting shoes. All those guys lifting in vibrams or barefoot are simply retarded. Lifting shoes are not overpriced, overly cushy Nike Blabla gimmicks sold to fat and out of shape people. They make sense and they are efficient. Nothing gives you better support on squats then weightlifting shoes. Also… Read more »
Matt
6 years 3 months ago

I must be retarded

ian
6 years 3 months ago
i completely disagree about the weight belt jonathan, its used for support, if you need that support its because you naturally dont have it, the more you rely on the belt for support the less work and the weaker your abs and low back become, you dont use it you lose it, check out my last post, what happens when you need your squat strength in a real world life or death situation, but you have never squated without your belt and you dont have your belt on you, what do you do? your body wont be ready for that… Read more »
Jonathan
Jonathan
6 years 3 months ago
Ian, my main question is: have you ever squatted regularly with a belt? Because you don’t seem to know what a belt is all about. A belt is not a squat suit or a bench shirt. Those two items allow you to move more weight than you could without it. However a belt is there to help protect your lower back, it doesn’t stabilize it. True, our ancestors didn’t squat with belts, but then again I don’t think that they squatted heavy at all. You say that the body won’t be ready for heavy action when using a belt, but… Read more »
imnotbncre8ive
imnotbncre8ive
6 years 3 months ago

Great posts (both of them), Jonathon! As Jonathon has already stated, the lifting belt allows one to contract their abs harder, allowing one to lift a slightly heavier load more safely. In the long run, one will become stronger, more quickly, with a belt than without one.

I’m new to the MarksDailyApple and PrimalBlueprint crowd, but I hope I would suggest the following: the notion that a lifting belt will make your abs go to sleep is the Conventional Wisdom that just doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. Give the belts a try if you’re serious about getting strong, Ian.

ian
6 years 3 months ago

I am serious about getting strong, but in a natural way. I do not work out in gyms and i do not use barbells and i wont be using gloves straps or weight belts, its just where i am at, at this point in my life, maybe it does work for some, just does not make sense to me,

imnotbncre8ive
imnotbncre8ive
6 years 3 months ago

Fair enough, that is certainly your right and I wish you all the best. I apologize if my response was abrasive at all. I guess I was too quick to jump after hearing this misconception about belts. I certainly agree with the decision not to use gloves or straps.

Riley
Riley
6 years 3 months ago

If you do not use barbells in your weight training, do not train in a gym, and do not lift belted, then why are you commenting on the ill-effects of that style?

Matt
6 years 3 months ago

I lift in my Vibrams, before I had them I would wear some basic £10 plimsolls with no cushioning. I’d would still take them off to squat & deadlift barefoot.

Whenever I wear my Vibrams, people always ask where did I get them & how much they cost. They are always shocked at the price tag (classic’s range from £60-£80 in the UK that’s $85-$120 USDs)

ian
6 years 3 months ago
I couldnt agree more, my trainer has preached this for years, if you need wrist straps because you dont have the strength than you dont deserve to do the lift, body weight and full body movements like pushing pulling, lifting across multiple planes and doing lower weight for long periods of time is what strengthens not only muscles but tendons ligaments and joints, you look at guys like the founder of movnat, or my training http://www.kegconditioning.com or google an image of a real hunter gathering, they look strong, and shredded but not bulky, most gym exercises are founded on body… Read more »
Kristen
6 years 3 months ago

Great article Mark!

Just thought I’d throw this in, in case you’re ever in the situation where you need to wear dress shoes again:

We solved this problem for my husband by getting him Soft Star Ramblers in black leather. He loves them, and the look “dressy” enough for him to wear to work.

Since we can’t get Five Fingers for the kids, they also wear Soft Stars. We really love the shoes – and they’re handmade in the USA 🙂

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